Traits of Leadership: 5 Personality Traits of Leaders


Do you have the personality to be a workplace leader? Here's a look at the common "Big 5" traits of leadership, according to the executive coaching company Working Resources. Consider the strategies below for developing your own leadership qualities.

Psychologists have developed a set of dimensions that are used to define the human personality, with every individual falling somewhere on the scale for each trait. Although organizational leaders don't all behave in similar ways, a number of studies have found similarities in how they rank.

N = Need for stability, negative emotionality, neuroticism

Leaders are typically found to be resilient; that is, they aren't easily fazed by stressful situations. Focus on learning to become comfortable in new or chaotic situations in the workplace to become the "rock" that others can depend on.


E = Extraversion, positive emotionality, sociability

Rather than isolating themselves from others, natural leaders tend to be highly sociable and eager to talk to anyone in the workplace. Expand your social horizons by having lunch with some co-workers you haven't spent much time with before.


O = Originality, openness, imagination

Leaders are highly original, creative thinkers. Instead of simply following the accepted method of doing something, spend time thinking about how you might improve some existing workplace processes.


A = Agreeableness, accommodation, adaptability

Generally, leaders aren't that agreeable—that is, they won't simply do something because someone tells them to if they have other ideas. Don't be argumentative for no reason, but if you have a firm opinion, don't be afraid to express it.


C = Consolidation, conscientiousness, will to achieve, goal-oriented

Leaders, by their nature, are heavily focused on a goal, and will not let outside circumstances distract them. If you're working on a major project that could help you advance in the workplace, consider putting your social life on the back burner until the project is complete.

(Kathryn Hawkins is a writer and editor based in Portland, Maine. She has written for publications including, GOOD Magazine and Wildlife Conservation; is owner and editor-in-chief of, and is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media.)